Earlier this month the New York Times ran a feature on the newest discipline to come to college campuses: capitalism. Major universities in the United States are now going to start devoting some class time to learning about it. Which is another way of saying they will learn about America.
Conservatives often complain that liberals talk about conservatism as if they’ve only heard vague rumors about this bizarre species, mostly because it’s easy to avoid conservative opinion if you want to. But they’ll also justly complain that major liberal institutions, like the mainstream media and universities, don’t understand capitalism, and don’t seem to want to. Yet these institutions shape young minds.
There are many choice quotes in the Times article about the sudden interest their own country, but this one stands out:
James Glassman, the executive director of the George W. Bush Institute and a Forbes contributor, has written a piece on the facts about budget deficits and how various presidents truly rank.
The inspiration for Glassman’s piece was a comment by former Governor Howard Dean, who was asked what specific policies in the Bush administration he thinks are still being used to explain an unemployment rate of more than eight percent. To which Dean responded, “The biggest ones are the deficits that were run up…. The deficits were enormous.”
All of which caused Glassman to do something that Dean did not: consult the facts in various economic reports. Here is the key paragraph:
As for spending itself, during the George W. Bush years (2001-08), federal outlays averaged 19.6 percent of GDP, a little less than during the Clinton years (1993-2000), at 19.8 percent and far below Reagan, whose outlays never dropped below 21 percent of GDP in any year and averaged 22.4 percent. Even factoring in the TARP year (2009), Bush’s average outlays as a proportion of the economy was 20.3 percent – far below Reagan and only a half-point below Clinton. As for Obama, even excluding 2009, his spending has averaged 24.1 percent of GDP – the highest level for any three years since World War II.
I would only add that under Bush the deficit fell to 1 percent of GDP ($162 billion) by 2007, the penultimate year of the Bush presidency.
During remarks in Portland, Maine, on Friday, President Obama said, “We won’t win the race for new jobs and new businesses and middle-class security if we cling to this same old, worn-out, tired ‘you’re on your own’ economics that the other side is peddling. It was tried in the decades before the Great Depression. It didn’t work then. It was tried in the last decade. It didn’t work. You know, the idea you would keep on doing the same thing over and over again, even though it’s been proven not to work. That’s a sign of madness.”
You might think that a man who is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era and is presiding over the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression — not to mention the first credit rating downgrade in American history, the longest stretch of high unemployment since the Great Depression, chronic unemployment that is worse than the Great Depression, a housing crisis that is worse than the Great Depression, a standard of living for Americans that has fallen further and more steeply than at any time since the government began recording it five decades ago, and a record increase in the number of people who are in poverty — would be a little more careful when it came to lecturing the rest of us when it comes to what works in economics.
You might even say it was a sign of madness.
According to press reports, home prices dropped for the fifth consecutive month in January, reaching their lowest point since the end of 2002.
The average home sold in that month lost 0.8 percent of its value, compared with a month earlier, and prices were down 3.8 percent from 12 months earlier, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 major markets.
Home prices have fallen a staggering 34.4 percent from the peak set in July 2006.
“Despite some positive economic signs, home prices continued to drop,” said David Blitzer, spokesman for S&P. “Eight cities — Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Seattle and Tampa — made new lows.”
This development comes in the wake of 2011, the worst sales year on record for housing. The housing crisis is now worse than the Great Depression. And the home ownership rate (59.7 percent) is the lowest since 1965.